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Commentary On The Gospel According To Saint John Volumes 1&2

That Christ is God and of God by Nature.

33 He that hath received His testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

IN no other way was it possible to shew the impiety of them that believe not, except the glorious achievement of the believers were made known. For by the contrast of good things is the evil easily discerned, and the knowledge of what is better convicts the worse. If any then (saith he) have assented to the words of Him That cometh from above, he hath sealed and confirmed by his understanding, that truth is ever akin and most dear to the Divine Nature. Whence the converse is manifest to them that see. For he who thrusts away the faith will surely witness against himself, that God is not true. But we must again take notice, that he removes the Son from consubstantiality with the creation, and shews by what has been said that He is by Nature God. For if he that believeth the things spoken by Him, and receiveth the testimony which He gave of Himself, sealed and well confirmed that God is true; how shall not Christ be conceived of as by Nature God, Who is testified of as true by the credit of the things just said? or let our opponent again say how the Divine Nature is honoured, as being true, by our Saviour’s testimony being received. For if He be not wholly by Nature God, he that believeth will not be reverencing the Divine Nature, as true, but rather one (according to them) the fairest of creatures. But since, when Christ is believed, the declaration of being true extendeth to God, it is I suppose altogether clear, that He being God, not falsely so called, Himself taketh honour to Himself from those who believe.

But the enemy of the truth will not (it seems) agree to these words of ours, but will start up strong, not admitting the Son to be by Nature God: and will say again, Thou cavillest, sir, and contrivest turns of many-varied reasonings, ever rejecting somehow the simple and right sense. For since the Word of God hath come down from Heaven, calling out openly, I speak not of Myself, but the Father Which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say and what I should speak: and again, All things that I have heard of My Father, I will make known unto you: or also, as the holy Baptist averred in the following words, For He Whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: therefore of Him is he saying, He that receiveth His testimony hath set to his seal, that God is True. For verily is God the Father true, but thou attemptest to bring round to the Son what is due to Another.

What then shall we say to these things? shall we class the Only-Begotten among the prophets, fulfilling the ministry befitting Prophets, and doing nought besides? For by whom is it not unhesitatingly received, that Prophets used to bring us voices from God? Then what excellence is there in the Son, if He accomplish this alone? how is He above all, if He is still ranked along with Prophets, and is clad in slave-befitting measure? How, as though surpassing them in glory doth He say in the Gospels, If He called them gods unto whom the Word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken, say ye of Him Whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest: because I said, I am the Son of God? For in these words He clearly severeth Himself off from the company of Prophets, and saith that they were called gods, because the Word of God came to them, but Himself He confesseth Son. For to the holy Prophets was imparted grace by measure through the Spirit; but in our Saviour Christ it hath pleased all the fullness of the God-head to dwell bodily, as Paul saith; wherefore also of His fullness have all we received, as John affirmed. How then will the Giver be on a par with the recipients, or how will the Fullness of the God-head be reckoned in the portion of the minister?

Let them then hence consider narrowly, into how great blasphemy their argument will hazard them. And how one ought to understand the words, I speak not of Myself, but the Father Which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment what I should say and what I should speak, will be explained more at large in its proper time and place. But I think that at present the objections of our opponents ought to be made a foundation of piety, and from what they put forth, we ought to contend for the doctrines of the Church. They then affirm that the Son has received commandments from the Father, and says nothing of Himself: but whatsoever He heard, as Himself says, these things He is zealous to say to us too. Well, let him hold to this; for we will agree, since this nothing wrongeth the Son, as far at least as concerns the question of whence He is; yea rather it bringeth in a most beautiful œconomy in respect of the present subject. Therefore when they hear Him say, I and the Father are One; He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: let them receive His testimony, let them set to their seal, that God the Father is true, persuading the Son to speak what He knoweth accurately; let them not disbelieve the words of the Saviour, interpreting to us the things of His Father.

34 For He Whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God.

The Father then knoweth that His own Son is in Him the Same by Nature (for this I suppose the words, are One, signify, and nothing else), and acknowledgeth Him as Son not creature; Son I mean of His own Essence, and not honoured with the bare name of Sonship. For He knows that He is the Exact Image of His own Proper Self, so that He is perfectly seen in Him, and depicts in Himself Him That by Nature Ineffably beamed forth from Him, and hath in Himself the Son, is again in the Son, by reason of Sameness of Essence.

These things, o heretic, by considering, thou shalt release thyself from bitter disease, and us from trouble in argument and controversy. For He Whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God. If these words be considered simply, what will there be of marvel in the Son? For was not every one of the holy Prophets also both sent from God, and did he not declare His words? And indeed it is somewhere said to the hierophant Moses, And now come, I will send thee into Egypt, and thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord: to the most holy Jeremiah, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. What more then is there in the Son by Nature Who speaketh the words of God, because He is sent by Him? He will be declared to us again (it seems) as a Prophet, and nothing else, in respect of ministry.

Therefore you will here understand hath sent, either in respect of the Incarnation and the Coming into this world with Flesh: or again you will take it in a more God-befitting and higher sense. For the Father hid not the Son in Himself, but He beamed forth of His Nature, as brightness from light, after the unspeakable and inexplicable mode of Divine Generation: which too the Only-Begotten was making known to us, in saying, I came forth from the Father, and am come. For the Son hath come forth from the Father into His Proper Being, even though He be in Him by Nature. And what I came forth there means, this again the being sent here signifies. The Word then (he says) That hath appeared and flashed forth from the Father, in that He is God of God, will use words befitting God: but the words befitting God are true words, and such as reject all stain of falsehood. He then that receiveth the testimony of the Saviour hath sealed that God is true; for He is indeed by Nature God.

For He giveth not the Spirit by measure.

Promise now specially keen attention, my good friend, that with me you may wonder at the sober wisdom of the Saints. He said therefore that the Son was both sent of God, and speaketh the words of God. But he is observed as far as belongs to the simple force of the words to clothe Him with the prophetic measure, as we have just said. He removes Him then in these words from equality with them, and through this one token gives us to understand, how great, yea, rather now how incomparable the difference. For it is impossible, saith he, that they who have received the Spirit by measure, could give It to another. For never hath saint to saint been the bestower of the Holy Ghost: but the Son giveth to all, as of His own fulness. He then giveth not by measure, nor hath He, as they, some little portion of the Spirit, and this by participation: but since He was shewn to be the Giver too of It, it is manifest I suppose that He hath It wholly Essentially in Himself. He then that hath so great superiority over them, will not speak the things of God as one of them, but being God of God, will pour forth words befitting God.

But it will no how interfere with what has been said that certain deem that by Apostolic hands the Spirit was given to some: for we will believe them to be invokers of the Spirit, rather than truly givers of It: since the blessed Moses too was not enjoined himself to take of the Spirit that was on him but God kept this too in His Power alone, saying that he must put forth the seventy, and promising to take of the Spirit that was on him, and put it upon them. For He knew that it befits God Alone to perform things God-befitting.








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